No matter what type of change you are responsible for in your organisation, business processes, training, IT, M & A, R & D, HR, you will have seen a big bang project go wrong.  The most spectacular ones are always IT of course and, as an ex-IT Project Manager, I have to own up to a couple of dropped ones…

I have long thought that big bang projects are inappropriate for the enterprise.  They always end up costing more than planned, delivering less than planned, and causing more disruption than planned.  They also take so long to deliver that there is a very serious risk that by the time they are implemented, the results are no longer relevant or useful.

Business cycles are getting ever shorter and the 2 year £10million project is losing favour to the 3 month £250,000 project.

But with the shortened vision, it is harder to aim for anything more than a very vague big picture and this requires a change in thought process when it comes to business strategy.  There is little option but to accept a more emergent view of strategy since you have no idea what your competitors, your customers, your staff, your investors will be doing in 6 months time.

However, out of the short-termism comes opportunity.  For we are forced to build an agile enterprise that can react quickly to future events.  That is the biggest project of all and, I would argue, the key to future competitive advantage.  (By the way that doesn’t mean I am suggesting we try to implement the agile enterpirse in a big bang project!)

Taking a local approach to problem solving and rigorously selecting projects on

a) immediate business case; and

b) whether the project contributes a meaningful dose of agility for the future;

 it is possible to create a rolling programme of self financing incremental benefits.  There needs to be some general direction of course, but with the ability to set a new course if the winds change.

It is a fundamental law of project management that the smaller the project, the more measurable the results and the more likely you are to achieve them.  The big projects just carry too much risk.

In short, implement a big bang project and you might take ten steps forward or ten steps back.  Implement 10 small projects and you will take 10 steps forward.

One Response to “No More BIG BANGS”

  1. » Blog Archive » Big Bang = Big Bucks Says:

    […] to hear others arguing against big bang  implementations…I have just subscribed to Andy Pipers […]

Leave a Reply